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October 17, 2007

Council asks Lawmakers to reject Internet regulation proposals

The Business Council has urged Albany to reject a bill that would lead to job loss and increase business costs by imposing harmful and unnecessary regulations on the Internet.

“New York needs a consistent telecommunications policy that fosters economic development and growth through innovation, not unnecessary and harmful regulation,” Business Council President and CEO Kenneth Adams wrote in testimony submitted to members of the state Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

The proposed legislation would prohibit service providers from governing types of traffic. Such regulations are made unnecessary by existing federal laws and would only add to an already overloaded system, Adams wrote.

“Various technology policy experts have indicated that the Internet is quickly reaching capacity and that bandwidth capability is diminishing,” Adams wrote. “Net neutrality laws providing universal treatment of all Internet traffic—no matter what— will greatly slow down networks for consumers because certain individuals will be using, for free, large segments of network bandwidth.”

Laws are already on the books to protect the openness of the Internet, Adams told Committee members. Existing federal antitrust laws protect competition online, and the federal communications act of 1934 protects consumers from discrimination.

“These laws, and others, adequately provide protections to consumers and the integrity of the Internet,” Adams wrote.

Adams also warned members of the committee that the proposed legislation would slow the growth of high-tech jobs by removing incentives for Internet providers to investigate and invest in higher-speed networks.

In addition to slowing job growth, the regulations would increase business costs by prohibiting a type of private network used by many corporations, universities and other entities, Adams wrote.

“Such networks are used to communicate with customers and employees, share private and confidential data, and to manage large databases online,” Adams wrote. “Net neutrality would prohibit these vital networks, making online information sharing and data management vulnerable. Consequently, costs of data management and employee communications will increase, raising the overall cost of doing business in New York.”

The federal government has already warned lawmakers against attempts at regulating the Internet at the state level, Adams told lawmakers.

“Such regulations are contrary to our shared goals of encouraging new investments in both our telecommunications infrastructure, and in encouraging new business growth,” Adams concluded.